Tuesday, December 27, 2011

My Week of Movie Watching

Band of Angels – Turgid Civil War melodrama from Raoul Walsh doesn’t have a lot to recommend it. Yvonne Di Carlo is the daughter of a wealthy plantation owner who gets sold into slavery after it is discovered that she had a black mother. Clark Gable is the mega-wealthy man who buys her. A romance ensues, but the rich man has a dark past, and the approaching war threatens to destroy him. It’s impossible to not think of Gone With the Wind when watching this, and although that isn’t really a fair comparison, this film is bad no matter what you compare it to. It’s poorly acted, especially in the case of a few of the supporting roles, and Gable and Di Carlo never really strike any sparks on screen.

La Pointe Courte - Agnes Varda’s 1955 debut, and a real nice little surprise. It’s only 80 minutes long, and tells two separate stories. In one a married couple comes back to the husbands fishing village home to try to salvage their marriage. The other story follows the denizens of the village as they fight to retain their way of life against local government who has decreed that the locally caught shellfish are not fit to be sold. The film is strikingly shot on location in Southern coastal France, and is interesting because the two stories are presented in such different ways. The couple’s portion of the film consists almost entirely of them walking the area and talking about their lives. It’s very Bergman-esque, and in fact even uses a sequence in the belly of an old boat, much like in Bergmans Through a Glass Darkly. Since this predates the Bergman film by several years, one wonders if the Swede saw La Pointe Courte. The fishing village portions, on the other hand, look to be highly influenced by Italian neo-realism, and the films of men like Roberto Rossellini and Vittorio De Sica. This mash-up of styles works well for the material involved. The structure of the film is inspired by William Faulker’s The Wild Palms, which alternated chapters to tell a pair of short stories. The screenplay was written Alain Resnais. Check this movie out.

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